Tag Archives: clarity

Getting Clear (or not) and Exerting Power (or not)

My first inclination was to name this entry “Failing at Homework,” but I stopped myself because I’ve just read Eugene’s piece about power dynamics and just watched Amy Cuddy’s TED talk, and they both remind me of how I disempower myself before anybody else can even take a stab at it.

My plan this week was to determine how I wanted to contribute to the project at hand, and not wait for my role to be completely dictated by someone else. As Eugene pointed out to me, the first step was to get clear with myself what I want my role to be, and – sure enough – I never got there. In the meantime, the universe decided to pitch in; a critical person on the project is very ill and unable to continue working on it, and my efforts are more necessary than ever. Not that this defines exactly what I’ll do, which is still fuzzy, but it ensures my participation. I’ve had so much competing work thrown at me recently that I wasn’t even taking that for granted.

So what’s my barrier to deciding what I’d like to do and requesting it? Why do I have such trouble exerting power? It sounds like the beginning of a long therapy session, but no doubt it has to do with gender dynamics, childhood upbringing, fear of failure, and karmic lessons. I’m tempted to start faking it, as Amy Cuddy suggests, but I also fear becoming obnoxious. I guess I associate power with strident, cocky, unlikeable people. Surely there are exceptions, but now I realize that there’s not much I admire about the exertion of power.

Perhaps there’s a quiet, gentle power that would be more my style than what I’m envisioning, and perhaps that’s what I need to explore. The type exerted in Twelve Angry Men is certainly not it!